Each aspect of photography can be a little daunting at first and the cost affiliated to professional equipment can appear to be a mountain, especially when you’re just figuring out your set up. When it comes to indoor studio photography the standard is five primary lights for full lighting coverage, though a lot of photographers use a simpler 3 light system. In this we are going to cover an inexpensive way to figure out which style works for you before investing in hundreds of dollars on lighting kits and covers.
A great way to start a basic lighting kit to play around with is with clamp lights, which go for around $20.00. These allow for very versatile set up and are not likely to get damaged while figuring out a set up that works for you. When using these you have the option of switching kinds of bulbs, allowing for white light or ambient lighting. They are also great to put light gels over when using LED bulbs as they don’t emit a lot of heat. Non dimmable bulbs are preferable in this set up and all lights should be the same kind and light level. Adjusting the lighting is done by distance and angle from the subject. Below are diagrams for basic three and five light set ups. This works well with portraits for people and pets, product shoots and video.
A tripod is not necessarily required to make this set up work, but for the sake of editing pictures later, it is highly recommended. Having a blank slate with your lighting set up can save a picture that has irregularities. Decent quality tripods are not overly expensive anymore and many can be purchased on Kijiji for under $50.00. I would recommend aluminium as it is inexpensive and can be used outdoors without fear of rusting.
Now for this DIY kit the total cost comes out to roughly $110.00 for a three light set up and $150.00 for a five light set up. That being said, using a DIY kit with clients in the room does not inspire confidence or a feeling of a professional work environment. For product shoots, personal projects, figuring out your system and personal video work this is a great way to go!
Once clients enter the room, a more professional set up will give you better credibility. That professional kit does not have to cost you an arm and a leg though. Kits can come as low as $200.00 that include a frame, three soft lights and generally come with a green screen.
Having changeable backdrops is also recommended. Though a green screen is fun to work with, especially with video, it doesn’t work well for portraits. Soft whites, blues and black are good backgrounds for people. Standard Muslin backdrops can be purchased online for around $25.00 and adjustable frames vary from $45.00 to $200.00.
That’s the basic kit for indoor photography when it comes to your indoor lighting and screens. If you have an any questions or want to add anything, please do so in the comments down below.